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Jim Spencer

Washington Correspondent | Newsroom
phone: 202-383-6123
Jim Spencer works in the Star Tribune's Washington, D.C., bureau. He covers the intersection of Minnesota businesses and industry with national politics, legislation and regulation. Spencer has more than three decades' experience as a news reporter, columnist, feature writer and sports writer.
Recent content from Jim Spencer
Minnesota leaders pushing feds to preserve Tokyo route

Minnesota leaders pushing feds to preserve Tokyo route

Delta Air Lines, which inherited the route in its 2009 merger with Northwest Airlines, warned two weeks ago that it is at risk because of changes at a Tokyo airport being negotiated by U.S. and Japanese authorities.
Device experiment program saves lives, speeds products to market

Device experiment program saves lives, speeds products to market

The Mayo Clinic is part of a plan to get devices to market faster.
Food industry mounts last-ditch effort to block state GMO labeling laws

Food industry mounts last-ditch effort to block state GMO labeling laws

The nation's food and farm industries are mounting a furious, last-ditch push against mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, with dozens of Minnesota businesses backing the effort as part of a national coalition.
Unregulated legal weapons sales in state challenge Obama

Unregulated legal weapons sales in state challenge Obama

As President Obama tries to more closely regulate gun sales, hundreds of handguns remain legally available in Minnesota with no scrutiny or disclosures and no change in sight.
U.S. Supreme Court passes on Medtronic Infuse case

U.S. Supreme Court passes on Medtronic Infuse case

Woman had sought to sue Medtronic for injuries she said were due to non-FDA-approved use of bone-graft product.
Minn. medical device firms spent millions to get tax to go away

Minn. medical device firms spent millions to get tax to go away

State's medical device firms see tax suspension as a win.
Road to free trade agreement vote just keeps getting longer

Road to free trade agreement vote just keeps getting longer

The path to passage of the country's largest free trade agreement just keeps getting longer.
Travel industry scrambles to limit impact of changes to visa program

Travel industry scrambles to limit impact of changes to visa program

Proposed changes to tighten the visa program could create a $5.4 billion hit to tourism in the U.S.

Medical device tax would be suspended for two years in federal deal

The medical tech industry praised the legislation.
Deep pension cuts loom for 14,800 Minnesotans

Deep pension cuts loom for 14,800 Minnesotans

To save the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund from collapse, trustees want to slash the pensions of fund members.
Plaintiff asks Supreme Court to take on case involving Medtronic's Infuse

Plaintiff asks Supreme Court to take on case involving Medtronic's Infuse

A plaintiff is hoping for a day in court to argue that Medtronic should be held accountable for her spinal injuries. But she will need a decision by the United States Supreme Court to get it.
Rep. Tom Emmer in the middle of fight over financial oversight group

Rep. Tom Emmer in the middle of fight over financial oversight group

Rep. Tom Emmer is pushing for changes in government control of big institutions.
Mayo lobbies U.S. panel to accept noninvasive colon cancer test

Mayo lobbies U.S. panel to accept noninvasive colon cancer test

Doctor says noninvasive cancer kit "could save tens of thousands of lives."

Medtronic sees little impact from new Treasury rules for relocated U.S. companies

The regulations aim to keep companies from leaving the U.S. for low-tax foreign countries.
Likely new FDA chief promises new medical device reporting system

Likely new FDA chief promises new medical device reporting system

At a Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Robert Califf revealed his plan to improve reporting.
GOP presidential hopefuls shine light on sugar program

GOP presidential hopefuls shine light on sugar program

As Ted Cruz attacks, Minnesota beet farmers worry the federal program will be misunderstood.
Minn. congressional delegation sticks to party line on Keystone reaction

Minn. congressional delegation sticks to party line on Keystone reaction

Republicans and one Democrat decry loss of jobs, as most Democrats tout commitment to clean energy.

Senate reverses field, dumps water rule but veto looms

The resolution passed, but its support was short of a veto-proof majority.
Government launches new crackdown on illegal debt collection

Government launches new crackdown on illegal debt collection

Effort to stop bullying, collection of nonexistent "zombie debt."
U.S. Senate blocks move to rewrite water rules

U.S. Senate blocks move to rewrite water rules

Procedural vote to close debate on changes to new clean water rules fails.
Franken stumps to end "forced arbitration"

Franken stumps to end "forced arbitration"

The senator says contracts for things like credit cards shouldn't be able to take away a user's right to sue.
St. Paul VA official takes the Fifth before House committee

St. Paul VA official takes the Fifth before House committee

A frustrated House panel receives no answers from Kimberly Graves over misconduct allegation.
Medicare delays new prosthetics rules

Medicare delays new prosthetics rules

Minnesota amputees protested the issue, which will get a new look in '16.
House backs Ex-Im Bank with rare bipartisan maneuver

House backs Ex-Im Bank with rare bipartisan maneuver

A rare maneuver backed by members in both parties sends the measure to the Senate.
Effort to reauthorize Export-Import Bank faces key vote in Congress

Effort to reauthorize Export-Import Bank faces key vote in Congress

It's been closed since July, but a rare congressional move gives it new hope

Minneapolis bar owner appeals to Congress for relief from serial disability suits

Businesses urge Congress to rein in serial lawsuits alleging violations of disabilities act.
U.S. sugar industry prevails in fight over restrictions on Mexican imports

U.S. sugar industry prevails in fight over restrictions on Mexican imports

WASHINGTON – The U.S. sugar industry, including Minnesota’s nation-leading sugar beet producers, won a regulatory marathon Tuesday as the federal government gave final approval…
General Mills, Best Buy, Target commit to White House climate initiative

General Mills, Best Buy, Target commit to White House climate initiative

General Mills, Best Buy and Target joined dozens of other major U.S. companies Monday in backing efforts to reach a global climate deal at upcoming talks in Paris.
Regulatory pact with major collectors should ease debtors' legal hassles

Regulatory pact with major collectors should ease debtors' legal hassles

Charice Goude of Brooklyn Center knew she had to pay back her overdue credit card bill. She just did not want to pay it back twice.

Court strikes down Minnesota sprinkler rule for new homes

The Department of Labor could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
Minnesota amputees seek help in Congress to overturn Medicare limits on prosthetics

Minnesota amputees seek help in Congress to overturn Medicare limits on prosthetics

Their access to certain prosthetics is in jeopardy without Congress' help.
Review: 'The Guise of Another,' by Allen Eskens

Review: 'The Guise of Another,' by Allen Eskens

FICTION: A Minneapolis detective tries to restore his good name after his task force is accused of theft.
U.S. finishes trade deal with 11 Pacific countries; Minnesotans split in support

U.S. finishes trade deal with 11 Pacific countries; Minnesotans split in support

The Trans-Pacific Partnership divides Minnesota caucus in Congress along party lines.
Pope's message to Congress finds its mark with Minnesotans

Pope's message to Congress finds its mark with Minnesotans

Minnesotans who crammed into and outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday said Pope Francis' historic message to Congress urging political civility and aid to the world's downtrodden was encouraging in times of domestic and international turmoil.
Pope urges Congress to help downtrodden in historic speech

Pope urges Congress to help downtrodden in historic speech

Pope Francis called on members of Congress this morning to help the downtrodden of both the United States and the world and pressed them to work to combat climate change, open their hearts to Syrians fleeing crisis, and fight for those caught in a cycle of poverty.

FDA to establish patient advisory committee on medical devices

Advisory group will provide input on clinical trial designs.
Australia faces pushback in its quest for a bigger piece of U.S. sugar market

Australia faces pushback in its quest for a bigger piece of U.S. sugar market

In bid to sell more here, Australian producers take on a powerful U.S. lobby
Minnesota among states in line to add hundreds of ethanol pumps

Minnesota among states in line to add hundreds of ethanol pumps

Agriculture officials estimate the state could add 620 pumps using a public-private partnership to match federal money.
Starkey Hearing shakes up leadership amid investigation

Starkey Hearing shakes up leadership amid investigation

The world's fifth-largest hearing aid maker and the largest in the U.S. has apparently ousted four of its senior executives in a major shake-up at one of Minnesota's biggest private companies.
North Dakota judge puts EPA's new clean water rule on hold

North Dakota judge puts EPA's new clean water rule on hold

Lobbying has picked up as he weighs whether his decision in a North Dakota case could apply in Minnesota and elsewhere.
Protest seeks to block Medicare policy changes on prosthetics payments

Protest seeks to block Medicare policy changes on prosthetics payments

They say proposed changes would prevent technology from getting to those in need.
Delta says Minn. jobs threatened by Persian Gulf's airline growth

Delta says Minn. jobs threatened by Persian Gulf's airline growth

Subsidies allow carriers from UAE and Qatar to undercut U.S. airlines, "Big 3" contend.
Cow power — manure — seen as part of climate change strategy

Cow power — manure — seen as part of climate change strategy

Capturing methane from manure from Minnesota dairy cows can reduce pollution and save energy, but technology can be tricky and too expensive to make money.
EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

New EPA rules dictate less coal burning and more clean energy, efficiency

Senator asks Justice Department to investigate sale of Cargill pork unit

The senator from Iowa said the deal could hurt competition.
Cargill signs White House pledge to combat climate change

Cargill signs White House pledge to combat climate change

At White House, the company agreed to take action to help mitigate climate change.
Consumer angst at forefront of GMO labeling debate

Consumer angst at forefront of GMO labeling debate

Regulators long ago blessed the use of genetically modified organisms to grow such staple foods as corn and sugar beets. But in an age of "Big Food" skepticism, consumers have increasingly become wary of GMOs.

Ex-Im vote Sunday could make bank's reauthorization part of transportation bill

Authorization for the Export-Import Bank ran out in June.
U.S. House votes to ban state GMO food labeling laws in overwhelming vote

U.S. House votes to ban state GMO food labeling laws in overwhelming vote

The bill prohibits state laws that make food producers disclose genetically modified organisms.
House ag committee approves bill that would ban state GMO labeling laws

House ag committee approves bill that would ban state GMO labeling laws

Ag committee sends bill to House floor despite outcry from states' rights, consumer groups.

After lengthy wait, effort begins to update GMO safety rules

WASHINGTON – By almost any measure, the U.S. system that judges the safety and effectiveness of genetically modified ­organisms is out of date. Despite…

Medtronic paid millions to docs to back Infuse

Controversial back-pain treatment has sparked hundreds of patient injury lawsuits.
Obama nominates former UnitedHealth exec Slavitt to run Medicare and Medicaid

Obama nominates former UnitedHealth exec Slavitt to run Medicare and Medicaid

Senate must approve nomination of Andy Slavitt, who helped fix the ACA website.
Mayo makes case for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine

Mayo makes case for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine

Mayo Clinic says electronic intensive care unit services could pack a bigger punch if lawmakers would bolster Medicare reimbursement.
Embassy reopening could help efforts to end Cuban trade embargo

Embassy reopening could help efforts to end Cuban trade embargo

Cargill, Klobuchar are among Minnesota leaders pushing for an end to trade embargo, new markets for local goods.
Corn syrup's DC attack on sugar could hit Minnesota beet industry

Corn syrup's DC attack on sugar could hit Minnesota beet industry

Cargill-backed refiners attack loans that aid Red River Valley beet growers.
Congress plans no votes on Export-Import Bank as authorization set to run out

Congress plans no votes on Export-Import Bank as authorization set to run out

No vote has been scheduled to save the 80-year-old bank, which supporters say helps businesses large and small sell abroad.
Paulsen's medical device tax repeal bill garners near veto-proof House majority

Paulsen's medical device tax repeal bill garners near veto-proof House majority

White House threatened to veto Paulsen-sponsored legislation without a revenue offset.
White House threatens veto of Paulsen's bill to repeal medical device tax

White House threatens veto of Paulsen's bill to repeal medical device tax

OMB said Paulsen's bill benefits corporations at expense of health care.

Minnesota's Democrats in U.S. House defy Obama on trade deal

Impact of free-trade deals on jobs among concerns.
House dumps country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and poultry

House dumps country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and poultry

Rules about listing country of origin didn't pass muster with the WTO.
Senate committee passes bill that overturns EPA clean water rule

Senate committee passes bill that overturns EPA clean water rule

Proposal that would overturn federal water rule heads to full Senate.

Patriot Act overhaul includes part pushed by Franken on feds, customer info

Minnesota firms are wary of the provision allowing companies to let the public know whenever federal investigators seek private consumer data about their customers.
U.S. House committee approves device tax repeal without alternative revenue

U.S. House committee approves device tax repeal without alternative revenue

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Erik Paulsen, would take $26 billion from health law over a decade.
USDA Secretary Vilsack defends Obama's record on ethanol

USDA Secretary Vilsack defends Obama's record on ethanol

Vilsack says USDA's new $100 million blender pump program offers latest proof.
EPA proposes more ethanol in U.S. fuel supply, but less than biofuel industry wants

EPA proposes more ethanol in U.S. fuel supply, but less than biofuel industry wants

Ethanol supporters in Minnesota are not pleased. They want an even larger blending mandate.
Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

Meat labeling sparks debate over national sovereignty, free trade

The U.S. court system upheld rules that require meatpackers to tell consumers where animals used in their products are born, raised and slaughtered. But the World Trade Organization may have killed the rules.

Minnesota senators remain opposed to 'fast-track' authority for Obama

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken maintained their objection to the bill to give President Obama "fast track" trade negotiating authority before and after…
U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

U.S. House ag panel votes to repeal beef, pork, poultry labeling rules

The U.S. requirement to disclose country of origin ran afoul of the World Trade Organization.
Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety, efficiency

WASHINGTON – Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, sums up the current rail shipping conditions for Minnesota grain farmers…

Rail industry and government struggle to balance safety and efficiency in shipments

Regulators and railroads work to keep oil train restrictions from slowing down a system that has just started to move again.
Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Senate reverses course and allows fast track trade debate

Klobuchar and Franken vote no; others join Republicans to move trade promotion authority for Obama into discussion.
Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate looks to have deal to debate fast track

Senate votes should lead to negotiating authority on free trade agreement.
Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Senate Democrats break with Obama on key trade measure

Klobuchar, Franken join in denying Obama in Senate.
New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New rules may make oil train info harder to get

New disclosure rules would require communities to request information.
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